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Can you Leave Someone out of a Will?

Wills, Wills Variation | April 29, 2021

Testators often give a lot of consideration to who they wish to include or exclude in their will. The intentional exclusion of a family member from a will is known as disinheritance and it can be far more complicated than it may appear. As experts in wills and estate law, the professionals at Linley Welwood have provided some important information regarding the process of disinheritance and what happens when an individual is disinherited.

What is Disinheritance?

Disinheritance is the act of excluding certain individuals, typically family members who would reasonably expect to inherit something from a testator, from receiving any gifts in a will. For example, a parent may choose not to provide any gifts for their child in their will and instead distribute their estate to another person or organization, such as charity. In this case, the child has been disinherited. In some cases, a testator may accidentally leave a child or family member out of their will. In either case, legislation in British Columbia permits a disinherited child or spouse to apply to vary the will of the testator to receive a suitable portion of the estate.

There are many reasons why a testator may disinherit someone. A parent and child may become estranged, or the testator may simply wish to distribute their estate to a neutral party. The testator may also wish to leave their estate to their spouse for distribution or leave more gifts to their grandchildren instead of their children. Every instance of disinheritance is unique and complicated, so it is important to understand the legal factors and considerations involved.

Factors to Consider When Disinheriting an Individual

If you wish to intentionally disinherit an individual from your will, there are many legal factors to consider. That is why a thorough review from legal experts like the team at Linley Welwood is highly recommended. One of the main factors to consider when disinheriting an individual is that they may choose to contest the will and file a wills variation claim. The disinherited party may claim that:

  • The testator was unduly influenced by another individual or party.
  • They were disinherited for reasons that are untrue, unjust, or against conventional social values.
  • The testator did not have the mental capacity or awareness to intentionally disinherit them.
  • They have a disability that prevents them from working and earning a living, making them financially dependent on their parent’s income and estate.
  • The testator had a legal and moral duty to provide for the individual.

Another factor to consider is the reason(s) for disinheritance. These reasons should be clearly outlined in the will to ensure minimal “interpretation” and second-guessing of your intentions.

To learn more about disinheritance and wills variation, reach out to the professionals at Linley Welwood. Our team can be reached through our online contact form and will work with you to provide the legal support you need.


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